While the cost of living in Chicago may not be as high as in other US cities such as New York and San Francisco, it's by no means a cheap place to live. In the 2023 Mercer Cost of Living survey, Chicago is ranked the world's 24th most expensive city out of the 227 cities surveyed.

With Chicago's growth as a major financial and business destination in the USA, there has been a general increase in development and cost of living. New arrivals should therefore ensure that their earnings will be enough to cover their living expenses in Chicago.

Cost of accommodation in Chicago

Accommodation is likely to be the most significant expense for anyone living in Chicago. Ultimately, how much a person spends on rent will depend on the area or suburb they choose to live in, as well as whether they opt for an apartment or a freestanding house. Areas close to the city centre are pricier than outlying suburbs.

Cost of transport in Chicago

Those moving to Chicago will be glad to know they won't necessarily need to invest in a car. The city has a comprehensive, efficient and largely affordable public transport network consisting mainly of buses and subway lines. To save money, it's a good idea for regular commuters to invest in a monthly pass.

Cost of groceries in Chicago

While the cost of groceries in Chicago is more than the national average, how much one spends greatly depends on their eating habits and choice of grocery store. Chain supermarkets like Jewel-Osco and Mariano's are found throughout the city and offer a wide variety of items at reasonable prices.

For those looking for organic or speciality items, stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's are available but may be slightly more expensive. Shopping at local farmers' markets can be a good way to save money, support local businesses and access fresh produce.

Cost of entertainment and eating out in Chicago

Entertainment and leisure pursuits in Chicago are generally more reasonably priced than in many other US cities. There are also plenty of activities in Chicago costing little or nothing. For example, most museums have one day a week when there are no entrance fees. There are also lots of free music and arts festivals that take place in Chicago throughout the year and plenty of public parks to enjoy at no cost.

Chicago boasts a diverse culinary scene with a variety of dining options, from food trucks and casual diners to high-end restaurants. The cost of eating out varies depending on the type of establishment and its location. Fast-food chains and local eateries in less expensive neighbourhoods can offer meals at affordable prices.

In contrast, dining at upscale restaurants in downtown or popular areas such as the Magnificent Mile or River North will be costlier. On the whole, Chicago's food scene is known for its value for money, offering world-class dining experiences at prices often less than equivalent venues in other major cities.

Cost of education in Chicago

There are many exceptional public schools in Chicago that can be attended free of charge. Expats who choose to send their children to a private or international school should check whether their employment relocation package includes an allowance for their children's school fees, as these can be high.

Cost of healthcare in Chicago

Healthcare in Chicago, like in the rest of the United States, can be pretty expensive. Costs can vary widely based on whether an individual has health insurance and the quality of that coverage. Those with comprehensive health insurance can expect most healthcare costs to be covered, but copays and deductibles can still add up.

The costs can be very high for those without insurance or with limited coverage, even for routine care and prescription medicines. New arrivals are strongly recommended to secure adequate health insurance, either privately or through their employer, before moving to the city.

Cost of living in Chicago chart

Prices may vary depending on the area and service provider. The chart below shows average prices for August 2023.

Accommodation (monthly rent)

Three-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 4,100

Three-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

USD 2,900

One-bedroom apartment in the city centre

USD 2,090

One-bedroom apartment outside the city centre

USD 1,480

Food and drink

Dozen eggs

USD 4.58

Milk (1 litre)

USD 1.14

Rice (1kg)

USD 5.02

Loaf of white bread

USD 3.67

Chicken breasts (1kg)

USD 5.27

Pack of cigarettes (Marlboro)

USD 16

Eating out

Three-course meal for two at a mid-range restaurant

USD 80

Big Mac meal


Coca-Cola (330ml)

USD 2.67


USD 5.29

Bottle of beer (local)

USD 4.56


Mobile call rate (per minute – mobile to mobile)

USD 0.52

Internet (uncapped ADSL or cable – average per month)

USD 60

Basic utilities (average per month for a standard household)

USD 260


Taxi rate/km

USD 2.11

City-centre public transport fare

USD 2.50

Gasoline (per litre)

USD 1.26

Expat Health Insurance

Cigna Health Insurance

Cigna Global Health Insurance.

Medical insurance specifically designed for expats. With Cigna, you won't have to rely on foreign public health care systems, which may not meet your needs. Cigna allows you to speak to a doctor on demand, for consultations or instant advice, wherever you are in the world. They also offer full cancer care across all levels of cover, and settle the cost of treatments directly with the provider.

Get a quote from Cigna Global – 10% off

Moving Internationally?

Sirelo logo

International Movers. Get Quotes. Compare Prices.

Sirelo has a network of more than 500 international removal companies that can move your furniture and possessions to your new home. By filling in a form, you’ll get up to 5 quotes from recommended movers. This service is free of charge and will help you select an international moving company that suits your needs and budget.

Get your free no-obligation quotes from select removal companies now!